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ISTEP+ glitches 'disaster,' state ed board member says

INDIANAPOLIS – Members of the State Board of Education on Wednesday expressed concern about the validity of the ISTEP+ test that has been suspended because of computer complications several times this week.

“The data we’re going to get is tainted,” said member B.J. Watts.

Another member, Daniel Elsener, called it disastrous and embarrassing.

ISTEP+ – the state’s required proficiency test – resumed today after two days of computer glitches affecting the exams’ online portion.

The Indiana Department of Education asked schools to decrease their daily test load to 50 percent of normal levels until further notice.

The resumption of testing was based on assurances it has received from test vendor CTB McGraw Hill.

“We have a high-stakes test. We will have to evaluate regarding validity,” said Superintendent of Public Instruction Glenda Ritz.

Indiana’s ISTEP+ test is now tied to school rankings and teacher pay.

Board of Education member Michael Pettibone, superintendent of Adams Central Schools, said some students lost data and had to start again. And he noted it is hard to tell an eighth grader to “stay focused” when the test is halted multiple times.

He said it takes only one or two students doing badly on the test to change a school’s ranking.

Board of Education member Tony Walker wanted details on the state’s contract with CTB McGraw Hill.

“It’s a performance issue, almost a breach, and I think they should pay," he said.

The comments came at a regularly scheduled study session of the board.